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2018 - Digital Marketing in the Rearview Mirror


At the end of every year it can be helpful to take a look in the rearview mirror to learn about the continued evolution of digital marketing and how some of the year’s trends and surprises will impact the years ahead.

What can you learn by looking back as you prepare to move forward? You can identify trends that have unquestionable staying power and those that are likely to fall to the wayside. You can also learn to anticipate how organizations will react when they’re facing adversity and how their reactions may impact your digital marketing campaigns.

Do those things make examining digital marketing in 2018 worthwhile as we draw ever closer to the start of a New Year? They most certainly do.

Digital Marketing News That Shocked Many

Let’s face it. Not all of the news that relates to digital marketing is interesting, let alone shocking. The continued debate about whether search engine optimization is dead or alive isn’t groundbreaking or attention-grabbing, for example. The notion that content is king – or should be – has been around since Bill Gates shared his well-known essay about the topic way back in 1996.

While some digital marketing news is, to put it simply, old news, that doesn’t mean everything that happened in the industry in 2018 was the same old, same old. In fact, some stories that came across your desk probably surprised you just like they astounded digital marketers across the country and around the world.

Changes to Organic Search on Facebook

When it comes to Instagram news, Facebook news and the like, 2018 was a game changer. That’s because Facebook changed the way it prioritizes the stories that appear in its subscribers’ news feeds. Unlike in years past, Facebook now includes more personalized news from friends and family members in people’s news feeds, which has reduced the volume of content that users view from brands.

What does this shift mean for your business? It means you’ll have to change your strategy to show up in news feeds on Facebook. In fact, you should consider working with a digital marketing agency like Chicago Digital so that Facebook’s changes work for you instead of against you.

Taking a Position on Social and Political Issues

The days of keeping your organization’s opinions regarding social and political issues to yourself are gone. In today’s competitive business environment, consumers want the brands they do business with to take a stance on political and social topics. More specifically, a study entitled “Championing Change in the Age of Social Media” revealed that two-thirds of people claim that it’s “somewhat” or “very” important for companies to adopt a position on social and political topics.

Content Preferences by Age Group

In 2018, the type of content that people wanted to see by age group came under the microscope. As it turns out, more than half of consumers who are 18 years-old or older want to see more videos produced by their preferred brands. For consumers aged 18 to 24 years-old, just 22 percent of them consider emails from their favorite brands valuable. Approximately 68 percent of people who are at least 55 years-old value the emails they receive from the brands they prefer.

Trends That Will Continue into 2019

For the most part, 2018 has proven to be a year that carried on with the digital marketing trends from 2017. Improved augmented reality, increased video content and greater influencer marketing are all trends that carried over from the previous year. And those are all trends that will likely carry through 2019 and the years that follow as well.

It’s impossible to know for sure which of 2018’s digital marketing trends will have an impact in the industry in 2019. While that’s the case, some of the current key trends are likely to continue to impact digital marketing practices in the New Year.

The Use of Responsive Design

If your website doesn’t already have a responsive design, you’re behind the times and that will not change next year. Responsive design enables a website to provide the same user experience regardless of the device or browser a person is using to view your website. Responsive design in an absolute must for any business that wants to compete on the Internet. Adopting a responsive design is also the smartest thing you can do to future-proof your website for devices that are invented in the years ahead.

The Continued Use of Home Assistants

Many people have embraced smart speakers or home assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod in recent years. These devices have been so warmly received that 65 percent of the individuals who have one wouldn’t want to go without one.

In 2019, it’s reasonable to expect more brands to publish content for these voice-controlled assistants, with the goal of the content being included in listeners’ daily briefings. It’s equally realistic to expect more ads being filtered through smart speakers. It’s not unreasonable to anticipate Amazon, Google and Apple creating their own advertising platforms for their respective assistants so that brands can purchase ad space.

Hours Watched on the Internet Will Rival Time Spent Watching Television

Research indicates that hours watched on the Internet will rival the aggregate time people spend watching TV more closely in 2019. In the New Year, it’s anticipated that people will spend 2.6 hours online every day and they’ll watch television for 2.7 hours daily. As a result, it’s quite possible that many brands will spend less on television commercials and they’ll spend more on digital videos, Internet advertisements and social media.

Prepare for 2019 with Chicago Digital

Now that you’ve looked back at 2018, it’s time to look forward. To prepare for what the New Year has in store, get in touch with Chicago Digital. We offer a full suite of digital marketing services and our experts are knowledgeable and ready to adapt to changes in the marketplace seamlessly. If you’re ready to make the most of your digital marketing in 2019, our digital marketing services are for you. Contact Chicago Digital to learn more today.


Michael Sallander

Written By

Michael Sallander SVP of Digital Strategy & Co-Founder

How many of us get to say that we grew up to be what we wanted to be when we were young? Well Mike does! After graduating from the University of Illinois, he turned his dream into a reality and co-founded Chicago Digital with Scott Shefler. As the President of Chicago Digital he has done it a... Learn More


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